Lifestyle & Belief

1976 space data shows evidence of life on Mars: report


Images taken by a powerful camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show "dark, finger-like" streaks in the Martian spring and summer that fade in the winter and then return in spring.


NASA website

In findings that would have put NASA over the moon, a report out today says the agency's 1976 Mars mission did in fact find evidence of life on the planet -- scientists just missed it. 

Today's report by the International Journal of Aeronautical and Space Sciences had researchers analyze the data collected by the Viking mission over 30 years ago using a different, numerical system, with results showing similarity to that of terrestrial biological data sets, reported Discovery News.

Scientists say evidence suggests the 1976 Mars mission did indeed detect life on the planet. Fresh analysis of the historic data shows a "robust biological response" in support of "the interpretation that the Viking LR experiment did detect extant microbial life on Mars," said the report

More from GlobalPost: NASA's Mars exploration budget slashed by the Obama administration

Questions have been raised over the numerical methology used by researchers, however. Critics say the process does not sufficiently delinate between biological and non-biological data, according to The Washington Post.

One of the report's researchers, Dr. Gilbert Levin, pushed back against skeptics in a YouTube video in which he complained that "the majority is almost always against" any new discovery because it "startles the understanding."

Even, apparently, if the findings support a hypothesis that has long fascinated the world's imagination.